NYSUT United March/April 2023

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Quality Accesible Higher Education for All typography
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March/April 2023


This issue of NYSUT United contains important information regarding changes to NYSUT Member Benefits Trust-Endorsed Programs. Please read and retain this issue for future reference.
NYSUT UNITED [March/April 2023, Vol. 13, No. 4 ]
Director of Communications: James Morrison
Lead Editor/Copy Desk Chief: Clarisse Butler Banks
Assistant Editors/Writers: Ben Amey, Molly Belmont, Sylvia Saunders, Kara E. Smith
Photo Editor: J. El-Wise Noisette
Lead Designer: Nicole Clayton
Art and Production: Dana Fournier
Advertising: Andrew Watson
Online Communications Coordinator: Bryan Thomas
Editorial Support: Julie Malec
Contributor: Carl Korn

NYSUT United is a member publication of the International Labor Communications Association, Metro New York Labor Communications Council, State Education Association Communicators.
Editorial and Production Department:
518-213-6000 and 800-342-9810 (toll-free)
Annual subscription: $15. NYSUT members receive a copy of NYSUT United as part of their dues benefit. Households with multiple members will receive only one copy. If you do wish to receive more than one copy, please call 518-213-6000.
Address changes: POSTMASTER:
Member Records Department, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110

UFT member address changes:
New York Teacher, 52 Broadway,
12th floor, New York, NY 10004
NYSUT United (ISSN 21587914) and nysut.org are official publications of New York State United Teachers. NYSUT United publishes six issues from September to June.
Advertising: Email Andrew Watson at andrew.watson@nysut.org or call 518-213-6000 or 800-448-4ADS.
NYSUT Affiliated with AFT square space NEA square space AFL-CIO
800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110
518-213-6000 800-342-9810
President: Andy Pallotta
Executive Vice President: Jolene T. DiBrango
Second Vice President: Ron Gross
Secretary-Treasurer: J. Philippe Abraham
ELECTION DISTRICT DIRECTORS: Peter Stuhlmiller, Joseph J. Najuch, Jennifer Austin, Adam Urbanski, Andrew Jordan, John Kuryla, David Chizzonite, Jeanette Stapley, Laura Franz, Joseph Herringshaw, Juliet Benaquisto, Melissa Tierney, Sparrow Tobin, Sean Kennedy, Jeffrey Yonkers, Tomia Smith, Frederic Stark, Gregory Perles, John Mansfield, Kevin Coyne, Kevin Toolan, Laura Spencer, Karen Blackwell Alford, Mary Vaccaro, Amy Arundell, MaryJo Ginese, Mary Atkinson, Anthony M. Harmon, Michael Mulgrew, Elizabeth Perez, Richard Mantell, LeRoy Barr, Felicia Wharton (City & Private Higher Ed), Penelope Lewis (City & Private Higher Ed), Roberta Elins (Community Colleges), Jamie Dangler (State Higher Ed, UUP), Thomas Tucker (State Higher Ed, UUP), Philip Rumore, Adam Piasecki, Dora Leland, Loretta Donlon (Retiree), Joan Perrini (Retiree), Thomas Murphy (Retiree)
AT-LARGE DIRECTORS: Cheryl Hughes, Michelle Licht, Andrew Bogey, Brian Ebertz, Nicole Capsello, Michele Bushey, Maria Pacheco, Matthew Haynes, Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, Cordelia Anthony, Ronald Verderber, Nancy Sanders, Debra Penny, Michael Sill, Sean Rotkowitz, Thomas Brown, Janella Hinds, Leo Gordon, James Davis, Frederick Kowal, Florence McCue, Shelvy Y. Abrams (SRPs), Sandra Carner-Shafran (SRPs), Karen Lee Arthmann (SRPs), Deborah Paulin (SRPs), Angie Rivera (SRPs), Anne Goldman (Health Care), Stephen Rechner (Private Sector Higher Ed), Andrew Sako (Community Colleges), Pamela Malone (Higher Education) and Andrea Vasquez (Higher Education)
Melinda Person, Executive Director/NYSUT Political Director
HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS: Antonia Cortese (Emerita), Thomas Y. Hobart Jr. (President Emeritus), Alan B. Lubin (Executive Vice President Emeritus)
AFT VICE PRESIDENTS: J. Philippe Abraham, Shelvy Y. Abrams, James Davis, Evelyn DeJesus, Jolene T. DiBrango, Ron Gross, Anthony M. Harmon, Frederick Kowal, Kara McCormick-Lyons, Michael Mulgrew, Andy Pallotta, Adam Urbanski
NEA DIRECTORS: Serena Kotch, Dora Leland (Interim)
Alternate Director: Sue Raichilson
Executive Committee members are underlined.
[ Fighting for you ]

Pallotta to retire as NYSUT president

Andy Pallotta speaking at event
By Carl Korn



or so many of life’s big moments, timing is everything.

After leading the union through the Great Recession; winning a no-holds-barred battle against a sitting governor; defanging a test-and-punish evaluation system; spearheading a ‘no’ vote on a Constitutional Convention; cementing NYSUT’s inner-strength after the Janus decision; and helping to keep students and members safe during a deadly pandemic, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta looked around, took a deep breath and concluded: It was the right moment to retire.

“We’ve accomplished so much. Thanks to the strength and commitment of our members and leaders, NYSUT is in a much, much better place,” Pallotta said. “There will always be challenges. That’s the nature of politics. Still, I felt like this was the right time to pass the torch.”

Top ring spirals


SJA Logo
March 1

BOCES Lobby Day

March 3–5

Social Justice Academy

March 8–9

NYSUT Committee of 100, Albany

March 13–14

NYS Board of Regents meets

March 21

World Poetry Day

April 1

State budget due

April 17–18

NYS Board of Regents meets

April 27

NYSUT Board of Directors meets

April 27–28

Local & Retiree Council Presidents Conference, Albany

April 28

Workers Memorial Day

NYSUT Albany Logo
April 28–29

NYSUT Representative Assembly, Albany

May 4–5

In-district Committee of 100 meetings

Please note, some or all of these events may be conducted as virtual meetings.

On the Cover

Cover design by Mark Sharer
[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT praises full Foundation Aid plan; calls for other crucial funding

By Sylvia Saunders



hile praising the executive budget’s historic commitment to Foundation Aid, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta urged lawmakers to add funding for several crucial initiatives to help schools cope with the pandemic’s lingering effects and severe staffing shortages.

In K-12 testimony before the legislative budget committees, Pallotta noted much of the good news in the governor’s budget plan was overshadowed by a disturbing plan to expand corporate charter schools. A number of lawmakers voiced concerns that charter schools are not accountable, cherry-pick students and siphon funding from traditional public schools. NYSUT has also unveiled its “New Deal for Higher Education” campaign calling for a significant investment in SUNY, CUNY and community college campuses. (See page 14.)

On K-12 education funding, Pallotta thanked lawmakers for their partnership to fully fund school aid, with a 10 percent statewide increase. “This will make a real difference around the state,” he said.

[ Fighting for you ]

While public schools unite communities, corporate charter schools divide them

By Kara Smith



he proposal in this year’s executive budget to increase the number of corporate charter schools in New York will undermine public schools and undo the historic investment that’s been made in Foundation Aid.

The charter school industry can put financial burdens on traditional school districts, diverting millions in Foundation Aid funding to unaccountable charters.

Let’s keep public schools as the center of our communities.

Corporate charter schools strip funding from public schools

  • In 21 of New York’s most charter-saturated districts, 61 percent of Foundation Aid increases over the last five years went to charters.
  • These districts could have invested $2 billion in student supports. Instead, they were mandated to pay $1.23 billion to corporate charters.
  • The executive budget proposal clears the way for up to 106 new charters. Public schools could lose millions more in funding.

Educator tax deduction rises

Scissors cutting a dollar sign
K-12 educators have a little something to celebrate on the tax front this year. For the first time in more than two decades, the Internal Revenue Service has raised the educator expense deduction to $300 for out-of-pocket expenses in 2022.

If you and your spouse are filing jointly and both of you are eligible educators, the maximum federal tax deduction is $600 (up from $500 in 2021); however, neither spouse can deduct more than $300 of their qualified expenses.

An eligible educator is a K-12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in public or private school who worked at least 900 hours in a school during the school year.

Educators can deduct the unreimbursed cost of:

  • Books, supplies and other materials used in the classroom;
  • Equipment including computer equipment, software and services;
  • COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of disease in the classroom. This includes PPE items like face masks, disinfectant, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves; and
  • Professional development courses you have taken related to the curriculum you teach or to the students you teach. But the IRS cautions that, for these expenses, it may be more beneficial to claim another educational tax benefit, especially the lifetime learning credit. For details, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, particularly Chapter 3.

For state taxes, union members in New York can deduct their union dues from their state income taxes if they itemize, under legislation championed by NYSUT and other unions across the state in 2017. While not a dollar for dollar deduction for your overall union dues, this deduction will offset taxable income. Consult with your personal tax preparer to confirm your own situation.

[ Fighting for you ]

Long Island teacher grateful for huge student debt relief

By Sylvia Saunders



or South Country teacher Loraine Richardson McCray, her student loan debt felt like a life sentence.

“My debt was so substantial — and just kept growing — that I figured I’d die with it,” she said.

Loraine Richardson McCray headshot

Loraine Richardson McCray, Bellport Teachers Association.

All that changed when a colleague suggested she attend an online student debt workshop sponsored by NYSUT.

“The guidance and support was nothing short of divine intervention,” McCray said. “At the end of the process, I had a six-figure balance reduced to zero. No more payments to make — EVER!”

A Brooklyn native, she recalled moving into her SUNY Stony Brook housing with black garbage bags. The first in her family to attend college, she worked five different jobs as an undergraduate but still needed to take out loans. McCray racked up more loans to earn a master’s degree in TESOL and advanced degrees in technology systems and school building leadership.

“As the years went on, I just kept taking forbearance — postponing my payments and hoping my finances would improve,” said McCray, an English as a New Language teacher for 25 years. “But having two children, going through a difficult divorce and struggling to pay the everyday bills, the interest just kept growing to an astronomical amount. Two thirds of my debt was compounding interest.”

[ Fighting for you ]

Rochester Teachers Association contract a win for educators, students

By Ben Amey



he Rochester Teachers Association overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract in January, notching wins in salary increases, retention incentives, hourly rate increases and other key areas — 80 percent of RTA members voted in favor of the new contract.

“This agreement is good for students and fair to teachers,” said Rochester TA President Adam Urbanski. “I want to thank RTA members for your solidarity, for your active involvement, for your unswerving support, and for all that you continue to do for our students.”

The agreement comes after a long, hard-fought battle for the RTA and its negotiating team. The last contract with the district was signed in 2016 and members had been working under extensions to that agreement. Impasse was declared in 2021 and August 2022 under previous district administration. Negotiations picked up steam with then-Interim Superintendent Carmine Peluso, who was named permanently as superintendent the same week the contract agreement was announced.

NYSUT Legacy Fund seal

Deborah Maxwell,
an active unionist both in-service and in retirement

Deborah Maxwell

Like many NYSUT activists, Deborah Maxwell interpreted “retirement” broadly. Upon leaving the classroom in 2012, after 40 years, the Schenectady Federation of Teachers retiree served on Schenectady FT’s Executive Board as its retiree chairperson, helping to organize and rally local retired members.

Her commitment to the union in retirement was no surprise. She was also an active in-service member, serving as a building representative and as Schenectady FT’s high school vice president. Maxwell succumbed to cancer in early 2022 after a valiant fight. In recognition of her many years of dedicated service to the union, the Schenectady FT honored her with a NYSUT Legacy Fund award.

“Debbie was the epitome of all you would want in a member, serving equally important roles as an in-service member and a retiree member,” said former Schenectady FT President Juliet Benaquisto. “We are exceedingly thankful for her many years of service and miss her greatly.”

To honor an in-service or retiree activist from your area, visit nysut.org/LegacyFund.
[ Social Justice ]

‘Sounds of Wellness’ program explores history, healing benefits of music

By Kara Smith


Sounds of Wellness leaflet

he impact of music on emotions, mental health and wellness was the focus of a February Black History Month event facilitated by NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham. “Sounds of Wellness,” part of NYSUT’s Many Threads, One Fabric social justice series, shared the important uses of music when it comes to managing stress and reducing fatigue.

“The goal is to gain a deeper awareness of the role that music plays in promoting wellness,” said Abraham. “It’s been proven that listening to music increases blood flow to regions of the brain that produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin — music has the power to evoke emotional responses in listeners.”

In addition to promoting wellness and mental health, music also played a key role in the historic and dangerous journeys enslaved Africans followed to freedom, continued Abraham. “Courageous freedom seekers used songs to communicate messages, give directions and warn others of dangers and obstacles along the route.”

[ Social Justice ]

Social Justice Academy holds inaugural meeting

By Kara Smith


SJA Logo

YSUT’s Social Justice Academy will hold its first session in early March in Albany. An initiative of NYSUT’s Many Threads, One Fabric series, which explores racial justice, diversity and equity issues, the goal of the academy is to train local activists to form social justice committees within their home locals.

“We want to give members the tools and resources they need to be a force for positive change within their communities,” explained J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, whose office coordinates social justice initiatives for the union.

“By providing academy participants with the resources, tools and connections they need to create a successful human rights committee, or enhance an existing one, we hope to work toward creating a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is the norm and oppression is eradicated.”

[ OUR SRPs ]

Getting to know … Henry Epps

Henry Epps

School monitor Henry Epps is a member of Greenburgh-North Castle United. He was interviewed by Latoya Alvarez, a union liaison and member of Greenburgh-North Castle United and a member of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee.

Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.

My duties are to maintain a safe and structured environment for the students to learn by monitoring student behavior and providing therapeutic interventions. I also make sure they transit to and from their classes in a timely manner, keep hallways clear and help students deal with issues and challenges that arise throughout the day. I like to use conversation as my therapeutic method to de-escalate a situation, but I am also trained to provide physical therapeutic methods as necessary for the student’s safety.

I love what I do because I am able to reach kids outside of the classroom. I can relate to a lot of my kids because oftentimes we come from similar backgrounds and even when we don’t, they know there is no judgment passed upon them. I love knowing that I can make a difference by turning a bad day into a better one.

What does belonging to a union mean to you?

Being a part of a union is like being a part of a team. I love knowing that if I need any help I can reach out to another teammate for guidance. Solidarity is not just a word, it is who we are. As a football player, I know a lot about being on a team and this is what my union is to me.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Remembering your ‘Why’

Rebecca Grella

Jessica Sanchez, a member of the Brentwood Teachers Association, is an English language arts teacher in the same high school she attended. A 10-year teaching veteran, Sanchez has found that being an alum gives her a special connection with her students.
Returning to Brentwood was not a straight, easy line for me. I graduated college in 2010 when many teachers on Long Island were receiving excess letters. I would spend the next five years taking on leave replacements, teaching summer school and home teaching assignments; it felt like I was on a never-ending job interview. I had to make sure that I did the best job I could, day in and day out, or the next opening would go to someone else. When positions started opening, I was presented with job offers from two very different school districts. I could have chosen another district so I could experience something new. But I decided to stay in Brentwood because it is the only place where I felt that my presence as an alumnus and a Latina could make a deeper impact on the lives of the students sitting in front of me.

It’s important for students to see diversity in success stories that come from the same place they are coming from. The teachers I had growing up were amazing, but very few looked like me. I look around now and I see many more Latino educators and feel a sense of pride because together we have all been part of adding new voices to education.

Coming back to Brentwood was like coming back home. While I love discussing literature with my students, I would be lying if I said it was my strength. My true strengths lie in the connections I can make with my students, not in teaching them how to write a well-structured essay or analyze literature. While I can do these things well, I consider them a bonus to the magic that is already happening when the door closes.

NYSED.gov logo

New Regents exams slated

While a Blue Ribbon Commission studies whether to change graduation requirements, the State Education Department has scheduled transition dates for new Regents exams in math, science and English language arts.

The first to be based on the state’s Next Generation Learning Standards will be next school year’s Algebra I exam.

In 2024–25, the new exams for Geometry; Earth and Space Sciences; and Life Science/Biology will be administered. In 2025–26, new exams are slated for Algebra II, Chemistry, Physics and ELA.

SED has posted an informational memo and table detailing the first and last administration of each exam. Materials for each new exam, including an educator guide, will be made available during the school year prior to the first administration of that exam, SED says. The learning standards for each subject area have been available for several years, but the new tests have been delayed due to COVID-19.

Instructional timelines are available at nysed.gov/curriculum-instruction.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Educators embrace innovative approaches to civic readiness

By Molly Belmont



hen educators Matt Haynes and Tyler Eckhoff developed the “Civics and Social Justice” elective, they were initially attracted to the content.

“We were just excited about the content in general, but then when we sat down and started to plan it out, we realized what this course could be,” said Eckhoff, a social studies teacher at Tri-Valley High School and member of the Tri-Valley Teachers Association. “This course could be a way to get kids engaged in the community and empower them to make a difference.”

Haynes and Eckhoff’s new class, launched in 2021 as part of the State Education Department’s Seal of Civic Readiness pilot, prompted juniors and seniors to identify a local issue, research its history, analyze past attempts to solve it and then formulate an action plan for tackling it. All semester, students worked on issues they cared about, including the opioid epidemic, lack of public transit, immigration and income inequality.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Educating on the need for organ donations

By Sylvia Saunders



orth Syracuse teacher Matt Root is used to being the helper — not the one asking for help.

Teachers Matt and Kim Root

Phil Cleary

North Syracuse teachers Matt and Kim Root

So it was especially difficult for him two years ago when his doctor told him it was time to find a living kidney donor.

“How in God’s name do you do that?” he thought to himself. “That’s a really big ask.”

But what happened next surprised him, as family members, friends and North Syracuse Education Association President John Kuryla spread the word via social media and emails. Community members, some who were complete strangers, stepped up to answer screening questionnaires and get tested — even educators in a neighboring district joined the effort.

“They won’t tell you how many people stepped up but I heard from others there were a lot of volunteers,” said Root, who was well known in the community for his 26 years as a high school history teacher and starting a districtwide food program for the needy.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Norwich food service members save globe-trotting scorpion for student study

By Molly Belmont



corpions weren’t on the lunch menu at Gibson Elementary School, but that didn’t stop one from showing up in a box of bananas.

Early one Friday morning, food service staff were washing bananas when they found a scorpion in the produce box.

While scorpions may be commonplace in Guatemala, where the bananas originated, they are seldom spotted in New York, and the cafeteria staff was understandably surprised.

“Never in my 15 years have I seen such a thing and suspect that I never will again,” said Kathy Collier, a member of the Norwich Educational Support Staff Association. She said the discovery was so surprising that, initially, her team had trouble identifying it. The team posited that the animal was a hermit crab or beetle, before finally settling on scorpion.

[ Health & Safety ]

New Rochelle incident highlights critical role of school nurses

By Molly Belmont



hen the student arrived in the nurse’s office at New Rochelle High School, the complaint was the same as most every other person who turns up there: they did not feel well.

However, it soon became clear that this was no run-of-the-mill malady.

Wendy Miceli, a registered nurse and member of New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees, recalled that the student was disoriented, frightened and admitted to using a vape cartridge.

With the assistance of her colleagues, Miceli took the student to an exam room. “I took the vitals, which were unstable,” Miceli said. She decided to call 911. In the time it took for her to cross the office and dial 911, the student lost consciousness.

[ A Closer Look ]

New York Needs a New Deal for Higher Education

By Kara Smith



hen Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he promised the American people a New Deal. One that focused on the “three Rs” — relief for the economically struggling, recovery to help free the nation from the grip of the Great Depression, and reforms to prevent a similar economic collapse from occurring again.

The New Deal helped put the nation on the path to improvement and created landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Wagner Labor Relations Act, which guaranteed workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively.

Ultimately, these policies reshaped the U.S. and helped lead to generations of prosperity and global leadership.

This year, during the 2023 New York state legislative session, our state leaders must craft a new deal for public higher education. A new deal that invests in SUNY, CUNY and community colleges so New York state students have access to top-rated public colleges and universities without incurring huge financial burdens. A new deal that offers recovery after years of operating under austerity budgets, and reforms to boost support for students in need.

[ 2023 representative assembly ]

2023 RA promises to be chock full

NYSUT Representative Assembly 2023 Albany Emblem

YSUT delegates from across New York are gearing up for the statewide union’s annual convention. And they’ll be met with a packed schedule of elections, resolutions and events both before and after the conference.

The 2023 Representative Assembly will be held April 28–29 in Albany. Delegates will elect NYSUT officers, members of the NYSUT Board of Directors, an NEA Director and Alternate NEA Director, and state delegates to the AFT Convention.

(See nysut.org/elections2023. Member login required.)

The convention will kick off with an expanded Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference, held April 27–28. RA delegates will help set the union agenda for the next year as they debate more than 30 resolutions on pre-K through postgraduate education, legislation, health care, organizing and retirement.

[ Proposed Constitutional Amendment ]

Submitted by the NYSUT Board of Directors.

NOTE: Strikethrough indicates deletions. Underscore indicates additions.

Article VI — Membership Dues

1. The dues for inservice members on a monthly± basis shall be the following, plus the current AFT/NEA per capita for inservice membership in accordance with the NEAFT national affiliate dues agreement. Equivalent service fee amounts should be collected on the same schedule.

± Locals paid on a 10-month basis shall follow the 10-month salary schedule. Locals paid on a 12-month basis may follow the 12-month salary schedule. Unless otherwise specified, all dues changes commence on September 1.


NYSUT Member Benefits,
800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455 • 800-626-8101
Plan No.: 503; EIN: 22-2480854

Notification of Availability of Privacy Notice

[As required by 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 160.520(c)(1)(ii)]

In the course of providing you with access to health benefits, Member Benefits has access to information about you, which may be considered protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations. As a participant of Member Benefits, you were previously provided, either through publication in the NYSUT United publication or USPS mail, with a Privacy Notice describing our privacy practices, legal duties and rights concerning your PHI.

If you would like to receive another copy of our Privacy Notice, you can download a copy from our website at memberbenefits.nysut.org, or you can contact Member Benefits’ Privacy Official Betsy Porter at 800-626-8101 or by submitting to the above address a written request for a copy.

Board of Trustees, 
NYSUT Member Benefits Trust

New offering from NYSUT Member Benefits

The Trustees of the NYSUT Member Benefits Trust announced the launch of a Universal Life Insurance with Convalescent Care Benefit (plus YourCare360® Care Planning Services). This innovative universal life insurance product — provided by Trustmark — will offer added financial protection for NYSUT members and their spouses/certified domestic partners along with access to long-term care resources. Set to launch in May 2023, this program will combine convalescent care benefits that can be used to help pay for long-term care services at any age; a life insurance benefit to help secure your family’s financial future; and caregiving tools provided by YourCare360® offering guidance to manage your long-term care needs.

During a special limited time offer from May 1 through June 16, 2023, in-service members ages 18–64 can enroll for $50,000 of life insurance with a Convalescent Care benefit that is guaranteed issue (i.e., no health questions are asked) and up to $300,000 by answering a few medical questions. Retired members up to age 70 may also elect coverage by answering some medical questions. In addition, in-service members can purchase coverage for their qualifying spouse/certified domestic partner along with their children by answering a few medical questions.

Stay tuned to memberbenefits.nysut.org in the coming months for more details about this new offering.

[ retirees in action ]

Union for Life!

Consultants encourage in-service unionists to stay active in retirement

By Kara Smith


NYSUT Union For Life Logo

nion for Life isn’t just a slogan — it’s a fact. And retiree consultants Ruth Shippee, RC 9 & 10, and Sheryl Baker Delano, RC 12 & 13, are sharing that message with in-service members throughout their regions, one meeting at a time.

After realizing that many in-service members weren’t aware NYSUT had a retiree services department, let alone the benefits it offers in retirement, the pair met with Capital Region Staff Director Mike Rowan to develop a plan to get the message out. “In-service members often retire and think their union involvement is over,” said Delano. “We want them to know their involvement doesn’t end. NYSUT offers a lot in retirement.”

Rowan arranged for the pair to meet with area labor relations specialists and helped them schedule speaking gigs at regional in-service local president meetings. In short 15-minute presentations they detailed how retiree groups are structured — from broad retiree councils to formal and informal retiree chapters and groups — and encouraged in-service members to join their local retiree organization and stay active after retiring.

Quotes - Right
Quotes - Right


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

brb crying because Ms. Jacobs, my second grade teacher, showed up to surprise me at our monthly town hall and kept a note I wrote her over 20 years ago (@AOC)

Jolene DiBrango

Congratulations to our @nysut President, @AndyPallotta, on a well-deserved and well earned retirement. Thank you for all you’ve given to our union and congratulations on all you’ve accomplished. You leave a legacy of strength for our members! #1u (@nysutEVP)

Scott Reddinger

When I look at my elementary school daughter I already see the next generation of teachers behind me. I am so proud to be a member of @nysut and know that in time, we will #FixTier6 and give her the same amazing career and retirement benefits her mother and I will have (@CoachReddinger)

Secretary Miguel Cardona

PSLF by the numbers: Today’s number is 1.2. That’s the number of dollars, in millions, that the educators from Commack, NY received in relief thanks to PSLF. Promises made, promises kept. We’re not done! Thanks @HHHTA for sharing this great news! (@SecCardona)

Robert Reich

Increase in worker productivity: 65% Increase in worker hourly pay: 17% Productivity has grown 3.7x as much as pay from 1979-2021.This is what I mean when I say the system is rigged. (@RBReich)

[ voices ]

5 Questions for Erika Bezio

5 questions for typography
Erika Bezio
Saranac Lake Central Schools Teachers Association

You serve as liaison for the Saranac Lake Community School. How did you make the transition from classroom educator?

I’m officially a classroom teacher on special assignment. I attended a district focus group about community schools. There was an opportunity to become involved and I was ready for the challenge. I started in the 2018-19 school year. This is my 19th year with the district and doing this work as a former classroom educator is a gift; I already know many of the families from my years of teaching.


What’s the first step districts should take when starting a community school?

Designating a staff person who’s committed to the community school model, and who can do the work, is important. You need to have someone who can take a broad look at what’s already happening in the district, to help students and families, and develop a master plan to support that work. That ensures details don’t fall through the cracks and keeps the program sustainable. I report directly to the superintendent, which helps us maintain a districtwide perspective. Saranac Lake is a districtwide community school.

[ classifieds ]

Real Estate Sales

Specializing in country club, active adult communities and beach areas from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and surrounding areas. Serving NYSUT members for more than 18 years. Call Elly and Ed Lepselter. RE/MAX Advantage Plus, Boca Raton, FL. 561-302-9374.

YOUR SOUTH FLORIDA Real Estate Connection. EXIT Realty Premier Elite Sheryl Volk Realtor. Contact 561-389-8670 or sherylvolk@gmail.com.


ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH — Three-bedroom, two-bath condominium. NYSUT discount. rj@jobers.com. 716-830-4635.
CAPE COD COTTAGE — Clean and modern two bedrooms, close to everything. Special NYSUT discount. www.saltycottage-eastham.com. 845-706-3297.
Adirondacks four-season cabin, $850/week. Sleeps 8, adksiesta@gmail.com.


Tutor near home/work. All subjects/grades: facultytutoring@aol.com.


ARE CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE problems ruining your teaching career? Make classroom misbehavior a thing of the past. FREE book for NYSUT-UFT members. Act now! Why wait? Email: teacherservices044@gmail.com. (Please include your name and address) or write: Free discipline book, 1941 Edward Lane, Merrick, NY 11566.


WANTED DEAD OR alive — Old watches and clocks. Watchmaker pays top dollar for wrist, pocket or travel watches, clock movements, cases and watch material in any condition. I will look at anything — watches, cases, vest chains, bands or parts. Running or not — I want them dead or alive! Email: timeharvest@aol.com or call Mel 646-242-4720.


Free Tax Returns listing graphic
TAX RETURN PREPARED for teachers by a Teacher. 20% off for NYSUT members. Stuart Baum, Registered Tax Return Preparer RTRP. Email sbaum51953@yahoo.com.
GREECE/TURKEY TOUR. 13 days departing Sept. 8, 2023. Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and the Ancient city of Ephesus. Contact Raymond at 516-359-2359 or avatarglobaltours@gmail.com.

[ resources for you ]

Honor Women's History cover

NYSUT poster celebrates Women’s History Month

NYSUT celebrates Women’s History Month with a new poster honoring Jina “Mahsa” Amini. On Sept. 13, 2022, the 22-year-old was arrested at a Tehran metro station by Iran’s morality police for improperly wearing a hijab in accordance with government standards. Amini died three days later in police custody of an apparent heart attack. But eyewitnesses, including several women detained with Amini, report that she was severely beaten and died as a result of her injuries.

Since her death, outraged Iranians have led protests across dozens of cities with some female protesters burning their hijabs or cutting their hair in acts of defiance. “Women, life, freedom” became their rallying cry. It is the most sustained uprising in the 43-year history of the Islamic Republic and protests have spread internationally.

NYSUT is proud to honor the bravery of the women of Iran and their allies as they fight for basic human rights, freedoms and self-determination. Their struggles speak to the fragility of equality and underscore why we must fight to protect female autonomy in the face of government oppression.

Downloadable PDF versions and printed copies of this poster are free, in limited quantities, to NYSUT members. Visit nysut.org/publications.

NYSUT Audit notice

NYSUT continues its practice of providing members with access to the union’s certified audit for their review. The annual audit for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2022, is available and can be found on the NYSUT Member Center at nysut.org/audit. Members may request a hard copy by contacting the NYSUT Accounting Department at 800-342-9810, or by sending an email to finance@nysut.org.

[ passings ]

Susan R. Benton | Dec. 24, 2022
Newburgh Teachers Association

Christopher DeConno
Dec. 26, 2022
Johnstown Teachers Association

Mary Jane Fredericks
July 26, 2022
Gloversville Teachers Association

Joseph ‘Jerry’ Harrell
April 18, 2022
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association

Catherine Holmes | Jan.13, 2023
Watervliet Teachers Association

Millacent Lewis | Jan. 5, 2023
Retiree Council 7

Linda Yuhans | Aug. 9, 2022
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association

Obituary submissions must include decedent’s full name, union affiliation, date of death, and contact info for the person submitting the notice. Send notices to Julie Malec, NYSUT United, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455; or email julie.malec@nysut.org.

It’s What We Do

It's What We Do
John Catania, Scarsdale Teachers Association
headshot of John Catania

John Catania, a second-year art teacher at Scarsdale High School, was riding the L train when he witnessed the violent attack of another passenger. Catania said a man began to harass a woman and made anti-Muslim statements before grabbing her and slashing her with a sharp object.

“It was very violent out of nowhere, and I knew someone needed to do something,” Catania said.

The Scarsdale TA member stepped in to protect the woman and successfully fended off the assailant, who fled the train.

Catania, too, sustained injuries during the attack, including a laceration to the head that required 26 stitches. He and the victim, Diamond Phillips, were both taken to Bellevue Hospital where they were treated for their injuries and released.

“John Catania is an upstanding man,” said Joe Vaughn, Scarsdale TA president. “It does not surprise me that he took it upon himself to do what was right instead of what was easy.”

Catania’s heroism was also recognized by New York City Mayor Eric Adams during a special ceremony.

“Our superheroes don’t wear capes. They’re in the classroom, they’re on our subway system, they’re doing the job every day,” Adams said.

Catania said he is recovering well, thanks to the support of colleagues and students. “I have been overwhelmed with love and support from family, friends, coworkers, students, even people I’ve never met before.”

Read more about Catania at nysut.org/itswhatwedo.

On the job and in the community, NYSUT members make a difference

[ Member Benefits ]

Payroll & pension deduction

You could be saving up to 20 percent on MB-endorsed programs


he buying power of a membership composed of more than 650,000 NYSUT members generates significant savings on its own. However, members that utilize either payroll or pension deduction as a payment option when purchasing NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs can save even more — up to 20 percent.

Payroll or pension deduction offers the following:

  • You never have to worry about forgetting premium due dates or deal with the inconvenience of writing and mailing out checks.
  • Easier on your budget. Annual premiums are divided into smaller payments and deducted from your paycheck or monthly pension benefit.
  • Payroll/pension deduction payments are good for the environment as the printing and mailing of paper bills is eliminated.
  • Additional savings come with most of our programs when payroll or pension deduction is utilized.
[ Your ERS Pension ]

Thinking of retiring? Know your options


The retirement plans administered by the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System guarantee members a monthly lifetime pension benefit when they retire.

The benefit you receive depends on your specific retirement plan and membership tier. You can look up your plan using our Find Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan Publication tool at bit.ly/plan-publication.

Your pension benefit amount also depends on the payment option you choose at retirement. You can choose from several options. For example:

  • The Single Life Allowance provides the maximum amount payable during your lifetime. However, if you choose this option, you cannot designate a beneficiary to receive monthly pension payments after you die.
  • Other payment options, such as Joint Allowance options, give you a reduced monthly benefit, but provide a continuing payment to a beneficiary when you die. The amount you and your beneficiary receive is based on the percentage of your pension you wish to leave for your beneficiary, as well as your and your beneficiary’s birthdates.
[ Your TRS Pension ]

Setting up a MyNYSTRS account

Login/Signup graphic
Q :

How do I set up a MyNYSTRS account?

A :

Congratulations on making the choice to set up a MyNYSTRS account. Through your MyNYSTRS account you can do a variety of tasks from the comfort of your own home, including updating your name and address, changing your beneficiaries, submitting prior service claims, estimating your pension or filing a retirement application.

The first step in setting up an account is visiting the MyNYSTRS registration page at secure.nystrs.org/MyNYSTRS/register. You’ll need your seven-digit NYSTRS employee identification number, the last four digits of your Social Security Number, your date of birth, a personal email and a cell phone number to set up an account, so make sure you have those handy.

Your NYSTRS EmplID is unique to the retirement system. It’s different than your school district ID, your NYSUT union ID, or any other school-related identification numbers you’ve received.

[ Local Unions in Action ]

Niagara-Wheatfield Teachers Association

What started out two years ago as a Niagara-Wheatfield TA social justice project has grown into a districtwide Family Support Center, including a food pantry and closets stocked with hygiene products, coats and clothing.

“It started as a one-time staff collection of hygiene products but we quickly saw how great the need is,” said NWTA member Kara Kirk, a social worker. Between September and December, the food pantry fed more than 70 families and provided more than 700 hygiene products.

To expand family support services, the district is now providing funding for Kirk and another social worker, Caitlin Jones, to oversee the project and work with community partners. The NWTA is led by President Darla Schultz-Bubar.

Westbury Teachers Association

members of the Westbury Teachers Association gather for a group photo at the associations table during a pajama drive
Members of the Westbury TA held a successful book and pajama drive with educators collecting more than 400 pairs of pajamas and dozens of books. Members distributed the cozy pajamas and books to students at the Yes We Can Community Center just before the February midwinter recess. The Westbury TA is led by Shahana Khairoola.
Share news about your local’s union or community events at united@nysut.org; include LIA in the subject line.


Kudos typography

It’s an honor

Command Chief Master Sgt. Sonja Williams, Carthage Teachers Association, in February became the first woman to serve as senior enlisted leader for the 174th Attack Wing. A Spanish teacher, Williams has served in the New York Air National Guard for more than 25 years.

In print

Jim Molloy, North Syracuse Education Association retiree, has published The Grammar You Missed in High School, a grammar refresher containing dozens of examples from published and broadcast sources.

George Robbins, Faculty Federation of Erie Community College, has written The Mystery of Spirit; Following a Path of Heart, published by Balboa Press. The book, based on a study of adepts from many spiritual traditions, distills practical techniques for individual improvement.

Baseball After Life, a fiction about true love written by Ed Cicchesi, is dedicated to the late Linda Cicchesi, Bronxville TA/Bronxville Teacher Aide Unit. Linda Cicchesi died from Lewy Body Dementia in 2021. For more info, including the author’s advocacy on Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit baseballafterlife.com.

Kudos recognizes the accomplishments of NYSUT members. Have good news you’d like to share? Email united@nysut.org; include Kudos in the subject line.

2023 Summary of Material Modifications

NYSUT Member Benefits Trust Summary of Material Modifications and Notice to Participants
(Plan No: 503; I.D.: 22-2480854)
Dated: March 2023
The following is a summary of important changes made to endorsed benefit programs since the publication of the New York State United Teachers Member Benefits Trust Summary Plan Description in March 2021 and the subsequent NYSUT Member Benefits Trust Summaries of Material Modifications and Notices to Participants dated March 2021 and March 2022. Please retain this information until a new Summary Plan Description is issued to you.

Trustees News
Mike Sill was appointed as a new Trustee of the NYSUT Member Benefits Trust at the June 2022 NYSUT Board of Trustees meeting. Meanwhile, Amber Chandler, Natalie McKay, and Anthony Nicodemo were appointed as new Trustees at the September 2022 meeting. The current list of Trustees of the Member Benefits Trust includes Chairperson J. Philippe Abraham, Secretary Roderick P. Sherman, Amber Chandler, Loretta Donlon, Carolyn Kube, Natalie McKay, Anthony Nicodemo, Kevin Peterman, Angelina Rivera and Mike Sill.

NYSUT United | March/April 2023

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NYSUT represents teachers, school-related professionals, higher education faculty, professionals in education, human services and health care, and retirees.

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Thanks for reading our March/April 2023 issue!